After transitioning from my Macbook to my Windows notebook (not by choice but by necessity), I was missing the power of Spotlight and Quicksilver greatly. I find it fascinating how Windows 7 and Launchy kind of share the relationship that Spotlight and Quicksilver did — similar in use, but very different in feel and different programs overall.
In case you haven’t guessed, today we’ll be looking at Launchy — a program that launches your software and documents quickly, meaning you don’t have to create all those shortcuts on your desktop or wade through subfolders upon subfolders of information! (There’s another very cool trick to speed up this process – through keywords. )
(Launchy actually makes things a lot simpler than that sounded, believe it or not. Read on, friend!)
Launchy is a program that activates software and directories. For example, you can type in iTunes into Launchy and press enter, which will open iTunes. This comes as an alternative to navigating through your Start Menu or creating a shortcut that clutters up your desktop.
By default, Launchy is set to activate when the user hits the hotkeys ALT + Spacebar. This is a great setup, because the two keys are so convenient to press, and it’s pretty unusual to accidentally hit these two together. If for some reason you want to change the hotkeys, you can do so by right-clicking Launchy and selecting Options.
Then navigate to Hotkey and select from the drop-down list of keys.
As you can see, Launchy’s look is very customizable, and has a variety of skins to choose from by default. If you want to find more, you can check them out on the Launchy website or DeviantArt. You can then copy the theme folder into C:\Program Files (x86)\Launchy\skins.
One key aspect to customizing Launchy is setting its catalog — telling Launchy where to index files and what types of files to index. By indexing a file, Launchy will be able to bring it up as a result when you type its name into Launchy.
The + button allows you to add a new folder or file to index. In this case, I’ve added C:\Users\Herbert\Music. On the right hand side there, I’ve also decided to include Directory names so that I can browse by artist. This means I can quickly access my music, like so:
It can be dead useful for quick access to folders you frequent, such as the ones for that project you’re working on or that novel you’re writing.
The last part of Launchy are the plugins, which extend Launchy beyond being just another keyboard launching piece of software. If you want to install new plugins, simply download them from Launchy’s website and then copy the .dll file into C:\Program Files (x86)\Launchy\plugins. Wish I could open them with Launchy and have them automatically configure like that!
To show you a more simple use of a plugin, check out Calcy. I can make quick calculations through Launchy — entirely skipping the need to find my scientific calculator or activate the Windows program Calculator.
If you’re looking for an alternative way to launch software, check out the quick, beautiful, and convenient Launchy(Mac users can use Quicksilver). You can download it for free, and if you like using it and want to contribute, send the author some money and show him your appreciation and support!
Note: I’d hesitated about writing this piece because I don’t want to get into a”which launcher is better war”, but I simply want to highlight Launchy as a great keyboard launching tool. Hopefully a lot of you give it a shot! There are plenty of reasons to make the switch. 🙂 Cheers!
Editor’s Note: As you all saw, Launchy has struck a chord with Herbert. It’s a great tool no doubt. However, when I used it few months ago I found that whenever it indexed the files, the CPU usage would shoot up. There’s a setting in Launchy’s preferences to stop it from indexing too frequently. I suggest you have it do that once in 24 hours.